In Russia, a blogger takes on powerful Putin
Alexei Navalny's charge that Prime Minister Putin is abusing his power is gaining traction, showing the growing clout of Russia's blogosphere.
(Page 3 of 3)
"The president himself seems to read peoples' comments to his blog or Twitter feed, and sometimes he reacts publicly to discussions going on on other popular sites," says Mr. Lukatsky. "It's hard to say whether it's becoming a real instrument through which society can influence the state, but its growing influence simply can't be ignored."Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Social media's rise
The role of electronic media in this year's Arab Spring, as well as spiraling unrest in next-door Belarus has got the Kremlin's attention, says Andrei Soldatov, editor of Agentura.ru, an online journal that reports on the security services.
"In the Kremlin, they have the idea that bloggers are associated with Western interests," he says. "When people like [US Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton talk about the liberating role of social media, they take that very seriously, as a threat. They are actively working on ways to deal with it."
Peskov responded to the open letter of Navalny, who holds a law degree, by telling the Ekho Moskvi radio station that he sees no reason to open a dialogue about the Front, a subject which he said "is extremely clear to qualified lawyers." He added that if the prosecutor wants to ask Putin any questions, answers will be provided.
But while blogs are beginning to give voice to many activists who would have been voiceless not too long ago, some analysts say the Internet's influence is limited to a small slice of educated, middle class, and mostly big-city Russians.
"Russia is much bigger than the blogosphere," says Sergei Strokan, a columnist with the Moscow business daily Kommersant. "If we're talking about influencing elections, or other real political processes, then the Internet's impact is probably quite minimal. Most Russians are not concerned with abstract violations of freedom, and so blogs like Navalny's are really interesting only for a tiny minority."
Mr. Strokan says that, no matter what you may read in blogs, Russian political reality is still mostly controlled by officials who mostly don't use the Internet.
"Russia is a country that's ruled not on the basis of law, but by the instruments of law," he says. "It's quite clear that if a political decision is taken to see no violations of law in the case of Putin's popular front, then none will be perceived."
RELATED: Putin's marquee moments